Editorial for April 1: Where are the women candidates?

 It’s striking looking at the lineup of candidates for the upcoming May general election and noticing just how few females are seeking public office in the Cayman Islands.

According to our latest count of 58 candidates, there are just nine women seeking Cayman’s highest elected office … less than 16 per cent of the islands’ nominated candidates.

It begs the question: Just where are our female leaders? We know we have some great ones who have chosen not to seek political office, and that’s not meaning in any way to denigrate the nine ladies who are putting themselves forward to stand in this election. It’s just glaringly obvious at this juncture that they are so far outnumbered by their male colleagues.

We would understand it if more women candidates ran and didn’t get elected … that’s the voters’ choice and part and parcel of democratic politics. However, we have to wonder why so few are even attempting to seek office?

At present there is one female incumbent elected official in Cayman, but she’s the territory’s premier and before that she was deputy premier. And although she’s not elected, Speaker of the House Mary Lawrence has quite a responsibility and an important role in presiding over assembly proceedings. So, it’s not as if women can’t ascend to the highest elected office in Cayman – the way has already been paved.

Looking at the past 20 years, there have never been large numbers of women elected to the legislature, never more than three since 1992. So though they have enjoyed some success in high office once getting there, women have never been a majority in the House.

Also looking at the past two decades, there have been far more female candidates seeking public office – for instance 14 in the year 2000 – than are seeking office in the lead up to this year’s election. We believe that number needs to increase, not decrease over time.

The assembly needs fresh perspectives and contributions, perhaps now more than ever. We’re just a bit disappointed that some of those individuals who might have provided that decided to stay out of it on 22 May.

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